By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
With continuing aftershocks and seemingly endless misery to cope with, responders and residents in Haiti face overwhelming challenges, and general aviation is stepping up to help ease that burden. While access is still limited at the main airport at Port au Prince, some smaller outlying fields are now open and GA pilots are delivering supplies from the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. “General aviation has the unique flexibility to use reliever airports to enhance the relief efforts taking place in Port-au-Prince,” AOPA President Craig Fuller said this week. “Working through a variety of humanitarian groups here in the United States and in Haiti, pilots are making a real difference.” Bahamas Habitat, a relief-mission group, is asking pilots for help. “General aviation aircraft are needed to deliver supplies and then do short round trips between Haiti and Inagua in the Southern Bahamas to evacuate missionaries and others unable to leave Haiti,” according to the group’s blog. “We have medical and other supplies in Nassau and Fort Lauderdale that need to be moved in and the list of people needing to be evacuated continues to grow,” the group told EAA. So far the flight missions have involved aircraft such as Cessna 182s, Beech Bonanzas and Barons, Piper Aztecs, and Cessna 340s and a Caravan. The organization seeks other volunteers with twin-engine aircraft and high-performance singles.
EAA also has an update from the Mission Aviation Fellowship, which is seeking volunteers and donations. The National Business Aviation Association is collecting a list of general aviation aircraft willing to help; go to the NBAA Web site for more info. Thierry Pouille, president of Air Journey, has offered free use of his company’s new border-crossing service, Easy Air Journey, for any aircraft flying relief missions in or out of Haiti. “We forget just how critical aircraft can become,” said Pouille. “We hope that Easy Air Journey makes it just a little bit simpler for all of the people who are trying to help Haiti.” The Air Care Alliance has compiled a listing of current information and links; click here for that resource.